I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you (63:4-5 NIV).
Our focus is on being satisfied in our relationship with the holy and majestic God, the overflowing source of love, joy, and peace. This happens as we worship (declare and display the worthiness) in the fullness of life. God did not “invent worship” to make us feel miserable or to give us an emotional high. Instead, the Lord wants us to be satisfied or filled. In his book Desiring God, John Piper mentions three stages of worship that saints go through.
- The lowest stage is that of barrenness of soul, where a person scarcely feels any desire for God, yet is repentant for having so little love for God (Psalm 73:21-22). In this stage, we have our souls focused on ourselves and the events of life. We do not think of God properly (according to how he has revealed himself in the scriptures), and we may feel frustration or perhaps even bitterness. Yet we continue to know that God is involved in life.
- The second stage is that of tasting something of God and longing to know more of him (Psalms 42:1-2; 84:2; 143:6). The soul begins to hunger and thirst for personal fellowship with our sovereign God. We begin to experience hope and preach that to our souls. Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5 CSB).
- The third stage is that mentioned in our text. We begin to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 CSB). We are satisfied in what he is. We drink of his living water and are glad (Psalms 4:6-7; 5:11; 9:2) We taste of him with our spirits and find in our experience that he is good. Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8) Our hearts become stirred by a noble theme as we lay hold of the ascended Christ by faith (Psalm 45:1).
However, the experience of many evangelicals in the previous 150 years to the present has been reduced to a barren intellectualism or decisionism. They have acted like or taught that the experience of the early church (cf. Acts 2:46-47; 4:23-31; etc.) is not for today. They have become strangers to truth written in passages like (Ephesians 3:14-19; 5:18-20; Philippians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:8; 2 Peter 1:8; etc.) Since most teaching in churches concerns how to be happy personally and to solve one’s problems, God has become the missing person in most churches.
“Where is the knowledge of God? Where is the sense of awe? Where is this great thing found in the Bible, when men and women have known that they have been in the presence of the living God? Surely this is the great difference between modern evangelicalism and that older evangelicalism that obtained until the middle of the last [nineteenth] century…? Where has this sense of godliness gone, this sense of wonder and amazement and the ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’?” (Lloyd-Jones, Enjoying the Presence of God, p. 115)
“The end God designs is, to draw our hearts and affections unto himself, and unto this end he gives unto us a glorious internal light, whereby we may be enabled to discern the true nature of the things that we are to cleave unto with love and delight. Without this we have nothing but false images of spiritual things in our minds; not always as unto the truth or doctrine of concerning them, but as unto their reality, power, and efficacy… He that believes in Christ in a due manner, who thereon discovers the excellency of his person and the glory of his mediation, will both love him, and, on his believing, ‘rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory’” (Owen, Works, Vol. 7, p. 447).
You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8 NLT). Amen.
Grace and peace, David